When I read that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and one of the world’s richest men, had pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to charity, I was intrigued, excited and fascinated all at once.
I was also asking myself lots of questions like –
“why would someone give away nearly all of their money?”
“where will the money go?”
“who will benefit?”
“what difference could it make?”
Also, I was struggling to comprehend the enormity of the size of the donation. To put it in context, that donation is equivalent to about $2,650 each, for every man, woman and child in Australia.
Zuckerberg has previously signed the “Giving Pledge” along with Warren Buffett & Bill Gates, which was a promise to gift half of their respective wealth to charity over their lifetimes. Zuckerberg went one massive step further, pledging 99% of his wealth, giving away most of his Facebook shares over his lifetime.
This is something that most of us simply cannot do, but if Zuckerberg were to give away 99% of his wealth today, he would still have $610 million, which is probably enough to get by on.
I was glad that so public a figure could come out and share with the world what he and his wife have chosen to do with their wealth. He could easily have just quietly donated it in the same way as many other rich people, but by being public, he creates a conversation around wealth and giving and sharing that the world needs to have.
I did quite a bit of net surfing on the subject of this new charitable organisation being set up – the “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative”, to oversee the use of the funds. Zuckerberg & his wife announced the donation as a celebration of their new born baby daughter named Max. Their intent is that the money will be used to “promote equality for all children in the next generation.”
I also discovered hundreds, even thousands of comments left by people at the end of various articles published on the web. I found many of the comments disconcerting – so many of them were negative and doubting – even scathing about the wealth being given away. I estimate about 20% of the comments said something like “it’s his money, what he does with it is his business.” Most others doubted it would be given at all, or that he was just doing it as a tax dodge and many were personal attacks against Zuckerberg himself. I found that incomprehensible. It also highlighted for me that there is so much envy and jealousness around money and wealth. I don’t think that will ever change either.
So Mark Zuckerberg can give away over $60 Billion. What can you and I do?
The first thing to get is that everything is relative – I don’t expect to ever have $60 Billion, yet I still choose to give what I can. If millions of people around the world chose to give what they could, the significance of Zuckerberg’s donation would be much reduced. And the world would be a better place.
Giving to others in need is one of the most noble things that one human being can do for another. The gift might be money, or it could be food, knowledge or even time. All of these things have value. It is just a matter of deciding what you have enough of that you can share, and then whom to share it with.
Do you have a favourite cause or charity? If not, the days leading up to the Christmas celebration are always good ones to get us thinking about how lucky we are and how we can share some of that good fortune.
Sometimes, you don’t choose the cause – it chooses you.
Two very good friends of mine spend quite a deal of their time and energy on a cause that has directly affected them and their family. My mate Keith had the good fortune to get tested for prostate cancer in his early forties and caught the disease early enough that it could be treated and he still walks this planet today, four years after being diagnosed. You might not be aware, but one man dies every three hours in Australia from this disease – that is a staggering statistic and makes it a bigger killer than breast cancer – a disease that gets far more publicity. Keith, being Keith, wanted to share his good fortune so he set about raising as much money as he could for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
Last year he raised $27,000 and was sponsored to go on a walking/climbing trip to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak. Next year, Keith, along with his magnificent wife Margot, is going to reprise that trip and will go up to 5,895m above sea level. They will pay for their own trip, but the object of the journey is to raise awareness about the disease and to get financial support from people who want to see something done about cancer, in all its forms.
There are three ways you can help if you think this cause worthy.
First – you can make a donation to Margot’s fundraising allocation – each walker/climber is charged with raising a minimum of $4,000 for the Foundation – though Margot has set herself a $10,000 target. Anything you can give will make a difference – it doesn’t need to be 99% of your wealth or anything like $61 Billion.
Here is the direct link to Margot’s web page.
Second – you might like to join Margot & Keith on this African adventure, which is being held on November 2nd – 13th, 2016, so that is still about eleven months away – plenty of time to get fit and raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
All details are here.
Keith is also doing lots of media interviews to help the cause along. He is an entertaining guest speaker who could appear at your event (workplace or group meeting) to spread the message of men’s health in exchange for a donation to the Foundation. To have him appear and light up your event, you could email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third – if you need a housing loan or mortgage, Margot is a gun finance broker. She has pledged to give 10% of her commissions earned this year to the cause, so by getting your loan or refinancing arranged by Margot, you will be helping raise money to defeat cancer. You can contact Margot via her email address at email@example.com or by mobile on 0417937968.
Everyone has the ability to change the world.
Decide what you want to change.
Then go out and change it.